Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday continued to record his statement in the Avenfield reference.

Judge Mohammad Bashir is hearing the case, filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the light of the Panamagate verdict, while other accused in the case, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar, are also present in the court.

Answering the questions asked by the court in the questionnaire, the former prime said that he had never been involved in any business dealing with Qatari royal family.

Confirming the letters sent by Qatari Prince Hamad bin Jasim Al Thani, Nawaz Sharif said that the prince himself verified the letters by writing letters to the apex court.

JIT head’s analysis was based on hearsays as the investigation team did not record the statement of the Qatari prince. He added that the Al Thani had never declined to become part of the Panamagate JIT proceedings.

He termed the statement recorded by UK-based Quist Solicitors, Akhtar Raja in the SC as biased. It was Raja, who had said in its opinion that the Calibri font may not be used in 2006 at the time the deed was signed between Hussain and Maryam Nawaz.

Nawaz Sharif added that the UK-based law firm, Jeremy Freeman, which was contacted by the JIT through Quist Solicitors, had verified the trust deed of Nielsen and Nescoll companies in January 5, 2017 letter

Jaremy Freeman had copies of the trust deed in its office but Akhtar Raja and JIT did not try to get them, the former premier said, adding, Akhtar Raja should be known that there is no concept of forensic test on photocopies”.

He said that Raja had sent documents to self-acclaimed forensic expert, Robert Radley, through email in haste and it is the reality that the expert expressed hesitation on forensic examination of the copies.

Radley’s report does not have significance as the expert did not have original documents for examination.

At the last hearing, Sharif on Monday said that it was inappropriate to include officers spy agencies in the Panamagate joint investigation team (JIT) as he is recording his statement in the Avenfield case before the accountability court.

Avenfield case: Nawaz terms inclusion of MI, ISI officers in JIT as inappropriate

A questionnaire comprising 127 queries related to the upscale London flats was handed over to the embattled Sharif family; the accused were directed to record their statements as per the questionnaire on a request made by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi.

Besides Avenfield reference, other two references filed by the accountability watchdog pertain to Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Al Azizia steel mills.

Nawaz Sharif and his sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar are named in the Avenfield reference only.

Sharifs’ Money Trail – Qatari Letter
Jaber al-Thani had come to the rescue of the ruling family during the Panama case hearing in the apex court in November last year.

The Qatari prince in question had forwarded a letter during the proceedings in Supreme Court last year in which he stated that the London flats were gifted by Qatari royal family.

The letter addressing the apex court states that in 1980, Mian Muhammad Sharif (Nawaz Sharif’s father) invested 12 million Dirhams in the Al Thani company belonging to the Qatari prince’s father. “In the year 2006, the accounts in relation to the above investment were settled between Hussain Nawaz Sharif and Al Thani family, who then delivered the bearer shares of the companies referred in para 4 above to a representative of Hussain Nawaz Sharif,” the letter read.

The Supreme Court in its April 20 judgment had set aside the letter that apparently was the fundamental point of Sharif family’s money trail.